Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Miss Manners says

I love Miss Manners. In fourth grade I read all of her books. Her well-hidden sarcastic wit is just awesome. That's why she's in my Google Reader. To be honest, I often don't read the columns, especially because they are fed as headlines-only, and it's kind of a pain to click over to read the whole thing, but every now and then I catch up on a backlog of them.

Today, it was the headline that caught my eye: Tentative Steps at the Wedding Reception

So naturally, I clicked on over.

Dear Miss Manners:

I am curious about the tradition of wedding dances. We have the happy couple's first dance. Then there is the father/daughter dance followed by the mother/son. By now, all the guests at the reception are happily chatting among themselves, no longer paying attention, and we segue into the son and mother-in-law, etc.

What is appropriate for an evening wedding with a band or DJ? How long should the dances be, and how many should there be?

The idea is for the bridal couple to open the dancing, not to give a private dance featuring their relatives while the guests' function is to stand around admiring them.

Or not. No wonder couples confess to nervousness about the simple act of dancing with each other. Getting married is not a sufficient qualification to stage a dance performance before an audience.

Miss Manners gathers that you have heard about those lists in which the order of dancing is specified for a long line of relatives, regardless of whether they are on speaking terms. Such overplanning arises from the suspicion that the gentlemen of the wedding party are innocent of the requirement to dance with the principal ladies instead of only following their personal preferences.

The idea is for the parents to dance with the couple and one another, and, by the way, it would be nice if the gentlemen asked Granny to dance, too. And for the guests to be treated as guests.

Guests should not be kept waiting, even the full length of one dance. Halfway through the bridal couple's dance, the bride's father cuts in to dance with his daughter and the bereft bridegroom turns to his mother. (This can also be done with the respective in-laws first.) At this point, the bridesmaids and groomsmen should take to the dance floor and encourage the other guests to follow.

Presumably, the bridal couple's enjoyment is in gazing at each other, not in being gazed at.

I believe Miss Manners has presumed correctly. In one wedding I was in, we (the bridal party) were instructed to begin dancing halfway through the first dance, on the DJ's cue, and then the DJ encouraged everyone else to join in as well. It worked really well, because the song was on the long side for a first dance song (Call and Answer, Barenaked Ladies). Other couples have advised us to choose a short first dance song for the same reason. Another way to divert attention? Do what Mrs. Hibiscus and Mrs. Eggplant (from Weddingbee, DUH!) did and have voice-overs played during the first dance. You get to dance, but your guests will most likley be paying attention to what's being said (just go listen at the links; you'll understand more clearly what I'm talking about).

In any case, it appears Miss Manners has spoken, and just as I always eat asparagus with my fingers as she says (go Google it yourself!), I will keep this in mind as well.

Not that we can decide on a first dance song, anyway.

Any first dance song suggestions, or other ways to make it less embarrassing?


Lauren said...

I love Miss Manners too! I never knew that was how you're supposed to do the first dance - I have seen people ask the bridal party to join in, but I'm not sure what we're doing yet. Dave's surprising me with our first dance song, so that should be interesting. I'm definitely doing a different song with my Dad, and Dave's doing his own song with his Mom, but the song I have for my step-dad we're just mixing into the wedding music somewhere.
My best friend's Dad was super nervous about being in front of everyone, so they actually asked other father/daughters at the wedding to join them halfway through their song. I dragged my Dad up there at my friend's request to try to help encourage others to join, I thought that was an interesting twist!